WICKER PARK — Police are encouraging residents in Wicker Park to keep an eye on their valuables — whether on their body or parked on the street — given a reported rise in pickpocketing and car thefts.
The news was shared at a community police meeting Wednesday.
For Beat 1424 — bordered by North avenue on the north, Division street on the south, Wood Street on the east and Western Avenue on the west — there were 19 motor vehicle thefts during a two-month period from Feb. 13- April 10.
That's compared to eight in the two-month period ending in mid-February.
In pickpocketing, there were seven instances from Feb. 13-April 10, compared to three during the prior two months.
Sgt. Felipe Reyes said the pickpocketing occurred "all along Milwaukee Avenue" and there was no particular pattern or description of suspect.
"Somebody bumps into you, but it's too late," Reyes said.
Simple battery was up too, with 23 instances during the most recent period, as compared to 15 in the prior period.
While theft under $500 decreased slightly — 21 for the current period and 25 prior — instances of theft over $500 doubled, with 15 incidences this period as compared to 7 in the prior period.
Beat officers said they continue to make gains in "impact arrests" for crimes such as drunken driving and graffiti, with three DUI arrests and one graffiti arrest in the 1500 block of North Damen Avenue.
In all, 46 arrests occurred in the period, three of which were for burglaries, officers said.
Sgt. Joseph Giambrone lauded the "quick thinking" of officers who arrested two iPhone thieves on March 13, describing it as "a total combined effort" between different tactical teams within the beat.
The teams tracked the stolen iPhone with GPS and contacted the CTA to stop an "L" train where the alleged thieves were found in the last car.
The iPhone victim had been wearing earbuds which, Giambrone warned, was like "putting blinders on your eyes."
Police reminded residents to be aware of their surroundings and belongings and, while in bars and restaurants, refrain from leaving purses or wallets at the table when using the restroom.
Beat 1424's next meeting is 7 p.m. June 5 in the Wicker Park field house, 1425 N. Damen Ave.